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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stories Are About Change

I figured out my heroine's growth arc for the Work In Progress (WIP). I say that as if I had a choice in this. It might be more accurate to say that my heroine allowed me to see her growth arc.

Characters need to grow and change. If they don't, the story seems pointless to me. I've run into this in a few movies I've watched and books I needed to read for university Lit classes. It's why I've quit reading a couple of popular series that I used to enjoy. The change doesn't have to be huge, but to me, the point of storytelling is to give the reader a peek into a life-altering event of the main character(s). Without this, it's just a day in the life.

To use an example from the movies, I watched Crossing Delancey starring Amy Irving. I was completely engrossed in the main character's life and waited for her to learn and grow. It never happened. The movie just ended and I was like, What?!? That's it?!? That ruined the entire film for me.

I've written stories before without really knowing the growth arc when I started. Like with the last project that I sent to my agent a couple of weeks ago. I thought the arc belonged to the hero, but it turned out to be the heroine. This required two revision runs through the book that were larger than I like, so it's always better to know before I start writing.

The heroine in the current WIP lives for revenge. Given the world she inhabits, the society that sprang up in this world, and the events that happened in the past, her need is understandable, but she's going to have to learn that there's more to life than hate. That obsessing over vengeance has hurt her more than anyone else.

It's getting her from where she is now to this place of epiphany that I'm still struggling with, but then I have another story and world vying for my attention. Focusing on the WIP is difficult when the New Shiny is whispering alluringly.